- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Several groups are banding together to fight what they view as threats to North Carolina’s environment, starting by calling out three state Republican senators for their votes on fracking in a television commercial.

The groups announced Thursday the formation of the North Carolina Environmental Partnership. It includes the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Natural Resources Defense Council and local environmental and citizens group in North Carolina.

The new partnership’s campaign will initially focus on fracking, the process of injecting chemicals and water into the ground to extract oil and gas.

Its first ad, now running on major television stations and on cable channels in the Triangle and Fayetteville, name Sens. Chad Barefoot of Wake Forest, Ron Rabin of Spring Lake and Wesley Meredith of Fayetteville as part of the “fracking crew.”

The commercial says the three all voted to “fast track” fracking and “put our families at risk.” It asks viewers to tell the legislators to stop “reckless” fracking.

The Senate approved legislation last year that would have allowed permits to be issued starting in March 2015. The permit date was ultimately removed from final legislation. GOP legislators say the state Mining and Energy Commission is creating state-of-the-art fracking regulations that will protect the health of citizens.

The partnership said the ad campaign will be augmented by direct mail and other public outreach.

“When legislators vote to threaten North Carolina’s drinking water, we’re going to make sure folks back home know about it,” Mary Maclean Asbill, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, said in a release.

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